Alison Tetrick will take the start line for Exergy TWENTY12 when Idaho's Exergy Tour flies off the start line with the downtown Boise prologue time trial Thursday night. Tetrick was not originally on the team's race roster but will be filling a spot left vacant when Pascal Schnider fell ill.
The Exergy Tour will mark Tetrick's return to top-level international racing since recovering from multiple concussions in just 18 months. Doctors cleared Tetrick to start racing again just before the Sea Otter Classic, where she competed as a warm up for the Tour of the Gila, but this will be her first race against international competition in more than a year.
"It's been a long road, but things are looking good," Tetrick said. "And my team's given me the opportunity to recover and build into it. It's been very good for me to stay healthy and focused on little goals at a time."
It's not the first time Tetrick, 27, has had to come back from a serious injury. She crashed during stage 1 of the Cascade Cycling Classic in 2010 and had to be airlifted from the course after suffering a double fracture to her pelvis. Tetrick stormed back from that injury, although the recovery time off the bike and the subsequent concussion when she returned to racing have delayed her Olympic hopes, which she has pushed back to 2016 and possibly beyond. Nevertheless, Exergy TWENTY12 team director Nicola Cranmer said she was pleased to have one of her veteran riders back in the fold.
"She's going pretty good," Cranmer said after Tetrick finished fourth during the women's time trial at the Tour of California. "I think she's still working on getting comfortable in the pack after her concussion. She's definitely getting stronger, and her time trial showed it today."
Tetrick said her first two races back in the peloton went well, and she was just happy to be racing again with her teammates and competitors.
"Just kind of building into racing this year has been much different than in years past," Tetrick said. "Some of it's been frustrating, and some if it's positive, but at the end of the day I'm just happy to be racing for my team and on a start line with them, they are some incredible women. It reminds you why you train, when you can go out and race with your competitors as well as peers, it's encouraging."
After the Idaho race, Tetrick's main goal for the season will be US Nationals in June, where she hopes to bring another national champion's jersey to the squad that has stood by her throughout her recovery.
"Exergy has been very understanding, really focusing on the severity and seriousness of a head injury as well as giving me the environment to build and recover," she said. "I couldn't have done it without them.